Celebrating International Women’s Day

“… the long-standing and total exclusion of women from our highest financial institutions […] might have something to do with our anti-human economic policies [...] From medicine to engineering, the professions have too long been male bastions. My own profession, the law, suffers from too few women. […] And, until law partnerships and judicial and legislative positions are as open to women as they are to men, we can expect law itself to tilt toward men -- all the way from rape legislation, to rules about maternity leaves and part-time work.”
Sargent Shriver | Los Angeles, CA | October 11, 1975

In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, Our Quote of the Week shines a light on the ways in which lack of representation in leadership positions prevents us from achieving equality—and creating a more just, inclusive society.

During the early days of his 1976 Presidential campaign, Sargent Shriver addressed the Women’s Leadership Conference in Los Angeles, California. He listed a set of “women’s issues” he would focus on as President, including lack of equal representation in the workforce, lack of pay equity, gender discrimination, rape legislation, maternity leave, child care, and ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment.

In the speech, Sargent Shriver says: “There really is no such thing as a ‘women’s issue’ that isn’t also a ‘men’s issue.’ [...] Real equality would be as liberating for men as for women [...] Men are imprisoned by the very stereotypes that oppress women. The economic rat race and the macho model are the other side of the male dominance coin. What’s involved in this struggle is no less than the most profound of all questions -- what does it mean to be a human being?” In these words, we hear Sargent Shriver’s challenge to a status quo that limits all of us as human beings. And it is because “women’s issues” also impact men, that he asserts that “the women’s movement must be America’s movement.”

Fueling Sargent Shriver, as always, is his sense of justice. He emphasizes how inequities in his own field, the law, affect women everywhere. By pointing out the injustices in the system to which he himself belongs, he shows not only the willingness to be self-aware, but also a deep understanding of the potential of the law to act as a great equalizer.

We invite you to read Sargent Shriver’s Address to the Women Leadership Conference, which stands as an important reminder that in the fight for equality, we must all work together to achieve our collective goals.

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Peace requires the simple but powerful recognition that what we have in common as human beings is more important and crucial than what divides us.
Sargent Shriver
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